Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ok Team, Let's Get Serious

Yesterday I was having a catch with my daughters. We were trying to see how many consecutive times we could catch the ball - of course I dropped the ball most often. Skyler spoke up and said, "Ok team, let's get serious." That pep talk alone worked for Sydney. I was still the issue. Then Sydney took the coaching to the next level. She asked us to come together, close our eyes and see ourselves catching the ball with two hands, for 18 times (17 was our prior record). Providing imagery and vision at an early age. I was impressed and back in the game...we made it to 25 catches.

Teams are so critical for furthering our efforts in healthcare. We have the daily opportunity and obligation to watch after one other and coach/guide each other as needed as we further our mission and vision. We have all experienced both the good and bad traits of teams. Certainly, the teams that gel and support each others' efforts, usually make the greatest gains over time.

I enjoyed the following 7 traits of high performance teams from Cynthia Clay, the President/CEO of NetSpeed Leadership:

1. Shared Purpose and Direction

On a high-performing team, everyone on the team is committed to the team's purpose. They know exactly what that purpose is because the team leader keeps them focused by constantly communicating that purpose in team meetings and regular updates. The team leader helps each individual team member meet his or new own needs while serving the overall purpose of the team.

2. Motivating Goals

The team leader ensures that everyone on the team has clearly defined goals and targets. In some organizations, the strategic goals and departmental objectives are determined by senior management. In that case, the team leader makes sure that these goals are clearly discussed. Team members should understand how their jobs support the achievement of the defined goals, and, if possible, have the opportunity to develop individual goals and action plans that spell out how they will contribute to the success of the organization.

3. Commitment to Individual and Team Roles

On a Total Team, team members have clearly defined expectations but they also understand how each of their roles is linked to every other role. Team leaders ensure that team members are cross-trained in other responsibilities so that everyone can back each other up when needed. The team leader makes sure that individual job responsibilities are fulfilled, but, at the same time, works to help the individuals develop a common language, processes and approaches that allow them to function as a team.

4. Multi-Directional Communication

On the best teams, team members solve problems, communicate with each other, and keep the team leader updated on current challenges or emerging issues. On low-performing teams, communication is one-way (from team leader to team members) or two-way (between the team leader and individuals). Skilled leaders focus on developing multi-directional communication, avoiding the trap of communicating with individual members of the team.

5. Authority to Decide or Act

No doubt about it, new teams may have to earn this authority by demonstrating that they understand the team's purpose, processes and priorities. However, effective team leaders work toward pushing authority for the team's outcomes to the team members. Team members know how and when to get approval for decisions and, in the best of cases, are charged with making on-the-spot decisions when a customer is facing them. On low-performing teams, team members have to constantly get approval before taking action, significantly reducing their effectiveness and negatively affecting their sense of engagement on the team.

6. Reliance on Diverse Talents

Savvy team leaders pay attention to helping team members understand their unique strengths, talents, and weaknesses. No individual team member can be good at everything. The best team leaders assist everyone to develop an appreciation for individual style differences, natural gifts, and personal experience. Teams are encouraged to use the language of acceptance and appreciation, rather than criticism and judgment. Team leaders consciously hire team members who bring complementary skill sets, unique experience, and diverse perspectives.

7. Mutual Support and Trust

The seventh characteristic may be the most important, and frankly, is probably the most elusive. The team leader can't force a team to be supportive and trusting--it's a natural result of shared responsibility, shared success, and mutual respect. The high-performing team achieves mutual support and trust because they have a history of working together to achieve grand dreams and results. They have met challenges, overcome obstacles, backed each other up in good times and bad. The Total Team has earned each other's trust.

Building a high-performing team is not an easy task. However, if you're a team leader that is up to the challenge, then consciously focus on developing these seven characteristics. Bring them to your next team meeting and ask team members to evaluate them. How do you know whether each of these characteristics is present or absent on your team? What is the team willing to do to develop these seven characteristics? Then ask the individuals on your team to commit to 3 - 5 specific actions they will take in the next 60 days. Revisit these commitments regularly and see what develops.

Ok team, let's get serious!

1 comment:

  1. Great article, thank you for sharing. I plan to share this with my managers at our staff meeting tomorrow. Team building 101!

    I found you through Paul Levy's blog and appreciate your reflections and tidbits.

    Jill B.
    Chicago, IL